Fuel Games: Managing SEO

The company I work for, Fuel Industries, just launched a new site: Fuel Games. It is a subdivision focused specifically on gaming as a brand-building experience, also known as advergaming.

One of the main goals of the site was to jam-pack it full of content; to make it interesting to read and to draw in repeat visitors. An extension of that was to improve search engine results. I did a couple key things to accomplish better rankings.

Identifying Keywords

This is a tricky issue. Essentially, you need to fill the shoes of your potential customers and determine what keywords they will use to find your site. While you can certainly look at your existing site statistics for how customers are currently finding you, it's not really an accurate indicator for what the majority of the users might be using. After all, if you've optimized for the keyword "sneakers" but 80% of users looking for your type of product type in "shoes" then all you'll ever know about are the 20% of users who find you.

In our case, we wanted to take advantage of key industry terms now becoming popular in our niche of the market: advergaming or brand gaming. With this information in hand, our writers tailored the content to make use of these words.

This doesn't mean it has to be done in an obnoxious way either like we used to see in the past with the word simply repeated again and again. But it can be done in a subtle way. Take the following sentence: "Check out this game." Seems simple and straightforward enough but it doesn't maximize the use of our keywords. Changing it to "Check out this advergame" does the trick. This is a fairly benign example but I think you get the idea.

Content Order

As you may or may not be aware of, Google - and possibly other search engines - rank content that appears higher in the page as more relevant. Since Google doesn't understand what that means visually, it has to rely on the HTML source. Doing this with tables would have been impossible but thanks to floats in CSS, it's quite easy to do.

First, I create a container div that will hold my two columns. With a fixed width design, I assign a width to the container. Then I float the main content to the right and the sidebar to the left. Two factors that can make content ordering difficult to work with are fluid layouts and backgrounds for either column. Since neither of these issues applied to my situation, things worked out well.

This is a similar technique to what I use here on snook.ca. If you remove stylesheets, you'll notice that all navigation actually appears after the article. The main header then becomes one of the first key pieces of information seen in the source and that's exactly what we want.

sIFR

The design called for some punchy headline styles but with frequent content updates it didn't make sense to have to export graphics every time a new page was made. With version 2.0 just released, I felt confident that it would solve the problem. Everyone in the office was very happy with the outcome. And Google will be, too, because it can still read and understand the headers. This understanding comes from properly using heading tags like h1, h2 and h3. I was also able to direct the content writers to be more descriptive with the headers to make them more relevant to search engines.

Results

Only time will tell how effective the results will be. Probably the biggest misunderstanding from clients is that search engine optimization is not an overnight cure. It takes time, from weeks to months, to actually see results. Stick to it, continue to pour content into your site and the results will come.

Published June 09, 2005 · Updated September 14, 2006
Categorized as HTML and CSS
Short URL: https://snook.ca/s/372

Conversation

7 Comments · RSS feed
Jens Meiert said on June 09, 2005

Huh. Everytime I hear from sIFR, I count a pimple on my otherwise crystal clear skin. Grrr. Don't get me wrong, I like the approach, but still, it's a no-no (I'm addicted to web standards, too). Please use Phark or SIIR.

Since it's 3:20 am in Germany and since I just came back from some "After Work" party: I'm currently listening to Ian Pooley's 2003 Clubnight mix. Wow. Enjoy some German house music ;)

Jonathan Snook said on June 09, 2005

Jens: In what way do you feel sIFR is a no-no?

Mike D. said on June 10, 2005

Far as I can tell from searching for "Jens" and "sIFR" on Google, Jens just doesn't like the fact that sIFR injects embed tags via javascript to browsers which need them.

My opinion on the subject, as the creator of sIFR, is that this behavior is not the least bit harmful... under any circumstances. First of all, it's injected via JS only if you have JS and Flash, and even then, only if your browser needs embed tags to display dynamic Flash properly. Incidentally, Opera is the only browser which doesn't require this (and thus we serve only object tags to Opera... no embed).

Jens Meiert said on June 10, 2005

Right, it's just that "embed" element and "sifr" attribute thang. Unfortunately - since otherwise great stuff.

Tim Hill said on June 21, 2005

Hey, the new site looks awesome. The little icons for news items and things are really cool.
I was just wondering why you chose having divs for news items, instead of using a list?
I am generally interested and not trying to be nit picky with your code =)

Jonathan Snook said on June 21, 2005

Tim: When I was putting it together, I didn't look at them as lists but rather as widgets. The design also changed slightly from what was originally planned which was less list-like. You're right in that a list could have been used and would have worked just as well.

Tim Hill said on June 21, 2005

J to tha Snizza: Ah okay, glad that happens to everyone then =)

Thanks,

Sorry, comments are closed for this post. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to send them to me directly.

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